By Tom Cannon
Another fall hunting season rapidly approaches, bringing with it the many hopes of hunters. Whether it is a trophy class buck you chase, or the feathers of migrating waterfowl, here are several new products that will peak your interest.
First, since many waterfowlers have already begun the quest to the northern promise lands, here are a few items that might just help bag a limit.
Never am I without my trusty Fiocchi ammo whether it be their Gold line of premium shotgun shells such as the Golden Waterfowl, Golden Goose, or Golden Pheasant loads which are made with plated shot for harder hits and deeper penetration on game birds. New for this year, the Golden Pheasant loads including the GPX version (1485 fps) are available in a four box set that is packed in a heavy duty Plano waterproof box. That’s just the ticket to keep shells dry and organized on that out of state trip!
Likewise, if we are hunting big game, our rifles are stoked with nothing else than Fiocchi Extrema hunting loads, which feature clean burning powders and premium aftermarket bullets from Hornady or Sierra for one shot kills. This fall Fiocchi has new loads in .223, 22-250, 243, and a new caliber the 300 Blackout. Oh yeah, Fiocchi offers a Plano box loaded with .223 or .308 ammo for those high volume rifle shooters and varmint control specialists! Fiocchi never rests, but you can see their latest new products at www.FiocchiUSA.com
The name and logo of Drake Waterfowl is very distinctive, just like their gear. For 2014, Drake has re-invented the breathable wader. Check out the new and improved, EST 2.0 waders! A complete once over was done to improve the fit and comfort. Higher sides now allow the hunter (or angler) to wade into deeper water. Drake improved the knee area by adding their own Hydro-Flex knee pads to improve comfort when kneeling and Drake also added pleats to the knees to reduce binding when bending over or squatting down. A three layer waterproof and durable but breathable fabric in several camo patterns completes the exterior. Of course the EST waders still have all the pockets and buckle free straps that hunters expect from Drake. These waders are available in standard and waist high (boat pants) versions as well. See more details at the website, www.Drakewaterfowl.com
Yet another unique item from Drake is their new Swamp Sole Backpack. This slick backpack features a molded plastic bottom to prevent the contents of the pack from getting wet if it was to be placed on a wet boat floor, duck blind or muddy field. Pockets and more pockets are the theme in the Swamp Sole. The exterior is covered with different sized compartments as well as ten shot shell loops. Let’s not forget a padded sunglasses case that is integral as well as a water bottle pouch. This is a well thought out, and handy item for the hunter. Although it was designed for duck and goose hunters it would work equally well for deer hunters also.
One item that really intrigues me is the field blind. I have several different models and all work fine but none really excel. Heavy Hauler Outdoor Gear has a new low profile blind, known as the FLP, or Fast, Light, Packable. This new blind weighs in at only nine pounds and folds up into a tight little package to make those treks into the corn or wheat fields easier. The maximum height is sixteen inches tall so it will conceal easy. Stubble straps cover the exterior to help make concealment complete. A mesh head cover allows the hunter to see yet stay concealed. The rear of the blind transforms into a bag to store the hunter’s extra gear. I hope to do an in-depth review of the FLP Blind at a later date, so stayed tuned, or inspect it for yourself at www.HeavyHaulerOutdoorgear.com
Whether you hunt waterfowl, deer, predators, big game, or just like to watch birds and wildlife, nothing beats a good set of optics. Alpen Optics has been producing award winning “glass” for years. This fall, Alpen introduces their Ranier 25-75 x 86, spotting scope. Its must have item for anyone who needs high quality optics in order to view their chosen quarry at extreme distances. The Ranier series is Alpen’s super premium line of optics and like all Alpen products it features a no fault lifetime warranty. This spotting scope incorporates a 45 degree eye piece for ease of viewing in most conditions. The internal optics have UBX high definition coatings to enhance low light images. Additionally the Ranier spotting scope utilizes “O” rings and nitrogen filled components and is guaranteed to be waterproof in any environment. If you haven’t taken a close look at the Alpen Optics line of binoculars, rifle scopes, spotting scopes and accessories then you are missing the boat. Alpen has won seven awards from Outdoor Life in their product tests in recent years, for their high quality optics at unbelieveable prices. Find your local dealer or just inspect the Ranier, Apex, or Shasta models of Alpen Optics at www.AlpenOptics.com
One of the best kept secrets in waterfowling is the use of layout boats. Four Rivers Layout Boats were one of the originators of “stealth duck hunting” boats and they produce some of the finest hand crafted low profile boats in the country. The latest creation from Four Rivers is the SOBADS boat. This eleven foot model is built to handle nearly anything a hunter can dish out. Approved for a seven horse power motor, it is best served with a “mud motor” which will push this SOBADS boat through thick and thin waters, over stump fields, across sand bars and dikes and into those hard to reach duck holes. The SOBADS boat will float in two inches of water while carrying nearly five hundred pounds! Did I mention all Four Rivers Layout Boats are hand built here in the U. S.? These incredibly safe and stable boats will get you to and from your destination with ease and once there they disappear with little effort. In fact I have had ducks light within feet of my Four Rivers Refuge Runner boat on numerous occasions! View the incredible videos to see firsthand what the SOBADS boat is capable of. www.FourRiversLayoutBoats.com
Big game hunters have been installing trail cameras for years but in recent years things have really evolved. Browning, is best known for their innovative firearms, but recently they entered the trail camera industry in a big way, grabbing top honors in several field tests. Two of their latest trail cameras, highlight the overall quality of their lineup. The Strike Force model is a great value for hunters on a limited budget or who need several trail cams for different locations. Don’t judge it by its size, (the smallest camera in the industry) because the Strike Force packs a lot of punch! Browning included a 10 Megapixel display camera system along with HD quality video capacity and long battery life. In fact the Strike Force was able to take up to ten thousand photos with one set of batteries (6 AA). It also had great reviews for its ease of use from Trailcampro.com.
Browning also makes a big brother, the Spec Ops trail camera. This higher end model generated a nearly perfect review from Trailcampro.com, and has been selling well among individuals requiring a surveillance camera for security purposes as well as hunters! One of the key components for the rave reviews is the fact that the Browning Spec Ops trail cam has a “no glow infrared”, thus it can take photos at night undetected. This feature never spooks game or “crooks” who may be either poaching or up to devious behavior. It also has 10 megapixels, and great battery life from the 8 AA batteries that fit into the easy slide out tray. What I thought was really cool was the integral two inch color screen inside that allows the owner to view BOTH PHOTOS and VIDEO right there without removing the camera from the tree! This trail cam is also able to take up to ten thousand photos from a set of batteries. Additionally the exterior of the Spec Ops is nearly perfect, as it blends right into most tree bark, thus remaining undetectable by passing humans. In reviews it ranked in the ninety-five percentile of all trail cams for trigger speed and recovery time. See the entire line at www.BrowningTrailCameras.com
Although Drake is bursting on the scene with its line of big game clothing, by no means are they new to producing hunting clothing for use in extreme conditions. In fact what Drake has done for waterfowl hunters, it hopes to do for deer hunters; keep them warm and dry in tough conditions! Take for instance, the new Non-Typical series of clothing specifically made for big game hunting. Need quiet exterior fabrics? Drake has that with their Silencer jackets and pants. Weatherproof and warm gear for treestands or high altitude treks? Try on the new Drake Sherpa Fleece pants, bibs and jackets. They even have headwear including, beanies, caps, and neck gaiters all in either Mossy Oak Bottomland or Realtree Xtra camo patterns. Face it, we all know that Drake keeps duck hunters warm and dry so why not deer, moose and elk hunters as well? I will have an in-depth field test of some of the new Non-Typical gear in coming weeks so stay tuned or visit, www.DrakeWaterfowl.com for more details and images.
Let’s not forget our canine hunting partners. While scanning the latest catalogs, my pal Vito, continually bumps my arm reminding me it’s time to train for the upcoming season. Any pro athlete wants their training to be as realistic as possible, therefore let us simulate a hunting scenario when training our dogs. We try to keep a shotgun handy that is loaded with Fiocchi “poppers” or blanks to reinforce the gunshot and falling game methodology. As with all Fiocchi USA products, the poppers and blanks are clean so they won’t fowl your shotgun. Likewise, I cast out a Retrieve-Rite bumper made by Drake Waterfowl Systems. It can be throw long distances yet is durable and lifelike.
Besides stocking up on gear, early season is the last chance to earn points on the home front. Ensure the chores are all done and all the summer projects are completed! Warn your boss of impending cold fronts and buy plenty of batteries for the camera as this fall is setting up perfectly for a memorable hunting season!